Kirsten Andersen

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Congressman defends statement that abortion is never medically necessary

Kirsten Andersen
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Washington, DC, October 22, 2012 (LifeSiteNews) – Congressman Joe Walsh, who has come under fire for calling into question whether abortion is ever medically necessary to save women’s lives, defended his statements in a press conference called on Friday to respond to the controversy.

Last Thursday, Walsh told reporters, “There is no such exception as life of the mother, and as far as health of the mother, same thing, with advances in science and technology. Health of the mother has become a tool for abortions anytime, for any reason.” 

Walsh’s rival, Democrat Tammy Duckworth, said she was “saddened” by his remarks and accused him of putting “women’s lives in real danger.”

On Friday, Walsh called a press conference to expand on and clarify his statement.  “Let me be very clear,” said Walsh, “that when I say I am pro-life, I mean that I am pro-life for the mother and I am pro-life for the unborn child. For me, there is no distinction between the two.”

“When it comes to having an abortion to save the life of the mother,” he said, “I will say again that outside of the very rare circumstances, such as ectopic pregnancies, during which both the mother and baby will die if the baby is not aborted, and other rare health issues and circumstances, the research is pretty clear that with the advances in modern medicine an invasive and traumatic procedure like abortion is often, thankfully, not necessary to save the life of a mother.”

Walsh also shot back at Duckworth, saying, “For Ms. Duckworth to say that I support letting a mother die is the most disgusting form of politics. That is a desperate quote from a desperate candidate.”

Walsh’s remarks have provoked outrage among abortion activists, including the pro-choice American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), which released a statement condemning Walsh and calling his statements “inaccurate.” 

However, the ACOG’s statement contradicts another statement produced by 140 leading medical professionals who participated in last month’s International Symposium on Excellence in Maternal Healthcare in Dublin, Ireland.

While Irish abortion activists have attempted to use the “life of the mother” argument as a wedge to introduce abortion into the abortion-free island, the medical experts affirmed their conviction “that direct abortion is not medically necessary to save the life of a woman.”

In their “Dublin Declaration on Maternal Healthcare,” they also affirmed their belief that there is a “fundamental difference” between a direct, intentional abortion and medical treatments “that are carried out to save the life of the mother, even if such treatment results in the loss of life of her unborn child.”

“We confirm that the prohibition of abortion does not affect, in any way, the availability of optimal care to pregnant women,” they concluded.

The meeting featured a panel of world-renowned experts in the fields of mental health, obstetrics and gynecology, and molecular epidemiology.

Ireland has long stood as a powerful rebuke to the “life and health” of the mother argument, boasting one of the lowest maternal mortality rates of any country in the world despite its strong prohibition on abortion. A comprehensive study released earlier this year found that Chile, which also has a strong ban on abortion in place, has an extremely low maternal mortality rate.

The Dublin statement has an unlikely ally in Alan Guttmacher, former president of Planned Parenthood, who wrote in his 1967 book Abortion - Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: The Case for Legalized Abortion Now, “Today it is possible for almost any patient to be brought through pregnancy alive, unless she suffers from a fatal illness such as cancer or leukemia, and if so, abortion would be unlikely to prolong, much less save life.”

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